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American missions against Nadzab
March 23 - September 10, 1943

March 23, 1943
B-25s strafe targest in the Nadzab area

September 5, 1943
82 C-47s drop the paratroopers at Nadzab following bombardment of drop zone by bombers pounding Lae and A-20s laying a smoke screen over the landing area.

September 6-10, 1943
Australian 7 Division transported to Nadzab by C-47s begins a push east towards Lae.

Japanese missions against Nadzab
November 6-9, 1943

November 6, 1943
Ki-43 Oscars of the 248th Sentai joined with the 13th Sentai to escort Ki-21 Sally bombers in an attack on the airbase at Nadzab. The 59th and 78th Sentai were also involved. The bombing was successful and the bombers got away without being intercepted by American fighters. U.S. fighters were in the area but the Japanese were too high and far away for them to intercept. In addition to the bombing at Nadzab, flights of Hayabusas swept in to strafe the airstrips at Nadzab and Gusap. Four attacked at Nadzab and three at Gusap. The bombing and strafing at Nadzab destroyed two P-39's and damaged 23 others to some extent. The commander of the 248th Sentai's 3rd chutai, 1 st Lt. Hideo Ota, was killed and 2nd Lt. Yoshihari Mayekawa was injured.

November 7, 1943
Nine Type 97 bombers targeted Nadzab bombing from 6000-6500 meters (19,700 to 21,000 feet). The Type 1 fighters of the 13th Sentai provided close escort while Muraoka led the 248th as top cover. The Japanese plan called for a rendezvous near Alexishafen at 2000 meters (6600 feet) followed by a climb to altitude approaching the target. This mission did not go at all well. Mechanical problems with some of the 248th Sentai aircraft delayed the scheduled rendezvous. While flying over the sea on the approach, the Japanese were spotted by four P-40Ns from the 8 th Fighter Squadron, which were flying a fighter sweep. Veteran flight leader Capt. Clyde Bennett led these four P-40s down from six o'clock high and caught a reported twenty Japanese fighters by complete surprise. The Americans claimed three victories in a single pass. Three P-40s zoomed away and returned to base without a scratch. One pilot sparred briefly with the Hayabusas and returned with fragments from an explosive bullet in his fuel tank. Two Japanese fighters appear to have been lost in this encounter, both were from the 248th Sentai.

The Japanese tried to organize their formation as they gained altitude and crossed the Finnisterre Range to carry out the bombing attack. The Americans were well prepared and after the bombing attack three separate formations converged on the Japanese. Eight P-39Qs (40th FS) and eight P-47Ds (36th and 342nd FS) hit the attackers, which were reported to consist of nine bombers and just ten or so fighters. The three American flights contacted the Japanese in rapid succession nearly simultaneously. While the Hayabusas were able to distract some of the fighters, many pressed their attacks on the bombers. Two bombers went down under these attacks. Ki-21 6323 exploded in spectacular fashion. Its tail with a stylized yellow marking resembling a “4” and part of a wing landed on a hillside while most of the bomber ended up on another hillside on the opposite side of a valley. Three of the Hayabusas, which were lost, probably also fell near Nadzab and were swallowed up by the jungle without a trace. These were aircraft of the 13th Sentai and 59th Sentai.

The Japanese claimed a P-40 and five “F4Fs” shot down. Two P-39s were shot down and one P-40 and three P-47s damaged. The bombing damaged aircraft and installations on the ground but nothing like the sixty aircraft destroyed that the Japanese claimed. Five Japanese fighters were lost. The 248 th lost two pilots killed and two wounded. The bombers suffered heavily. In addition to two shot down outright, three landed at Madang with heavy damage and four ditched off the coast. The bombers that landed at Madang were bombed and destroyed by American bombers two days later. Shortly thereafter the 14th Sentai was withdrawn from New Guinea.

Also escorting were Ki-61 Tonys from the 68th Sentai.

On the ground at Nadzab Airfield, 16 American aircraft were destroyed or damaged during the raid, and 14 Japanese planes were claimed shot down. Destroyed on the ground was P-39 "Nanette" Number 74.

Edward Park writes in Nanette, page 180, 182:
"On the next day 18 Japanese Betty Bombers [Ki-21 Sally] came high over Nadzab and dropped their load of antipersonnel "daisy cutters" with devastating accuracy... and walked toward a thick black column of smoke fed by savage flames in one of our revetments. Nanette's revetment. She [P-39 "Nanette" Number 74] had received a direct hit. It took her half an hour to burn... Two other planes had been damaged; the alert shack was shredded by shrapnel; six pilots discovered that they had been nicked; and one crew chief had become a soggy red bundle of clothes at the bottom of a bomb scorched slit trench. It was the crew chief for [P-39 Airacobra] number 75 - the same man who had helped me get out of it when I had been shot up in that big raid on Moresby, all those months ago."

November 9, 1943
On the ninth the 248th Sentai could mount only eighteen fighters while providing support for other fighter units attacking Nadzab. Penetrating to the vicinity of Lae the 248 th lost three pilots one of whom, Sgt. Major Hiroshi Yoshida, bailed out and became a prisoner of war. Yoshida reported he was shot down by two P-40s that shot off part of his right wing. He was probably the victim of 2 nd Lt. Carl Weaver of the 35 th FS. Twenty-seven P-40s and P-39s of the 35 th, 36th and 40th Fighter Squadrons claimed six OSCARS with only one P-40 crash-landed and two P-39s damaged.

January 15, 1944
JAAF: Ki-43 Oscars from the 59th Sentai under the command of Captain Nango conduct a fighter sweep over Nadzab Airfield. Over the target area, intercepted by P-40 Warhawks. Captain Nango claims three shot down and his wingman one.
References Japanese Army Air Force Fighter Units And Their Aces 1931-1945 page 44

January 16, 1944
JAAF: Ki-43 Oscars from the 59th Sentai and 63rd Sentai plus Ki-61 Tony from the 68th Sentai conduct a sweep over Nadzab Airfield. Over the target, intercepted by P-40 Warhawks that claim 19 confirmed kills and 3 probables. This combat set the wartime record for 5th Fighter Command for victories claimed by a single squadron during a single engagement. Five Ki-43 Oscars from the 63rd Sentai are lost in their first combat in New Guinea. References Japanese Army Air Force Fighter Units And Their Aces 1931-1945 page 44

248th Sentai "Hard Luck" Fighter Unit by Richard Dunn

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